The New Jersey Devils didn’t start off the season as positively as we would have hoped. There are glaring issues with the defense, the goaltending hasn’t settled in after Tom Fitzgerald went all in on Vitek Vanecek and Akira Schmid (for now), the penalty kill has been abysmal, and the middle six has been unimpressive at best. Despite all these issues, the Devils are still able to put wins on the board. The last two games really put the Devils on a better route moving forward.
Holding on to the lead against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday was huge in showing this is still an elite team. The Wild were considered a contender coming into the season, but they’ve had their own rough start. The Devils put them in the dirt, thanks to the 4-3 afternoon victory.
That pushed the Devils record to 5-2-1. The Devils are three points behind the New York Rangers, who many consider to have the second-best start in the NHL (the Bruins are once again at the top). The Rangers have an extra game under their belt, so if the Devils take care of business against the Wild on Thursday, it will get the Devils closer.
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It’s way too early to look at standings, but it gives us context to the overreaction to the early-season struggles. The Devils are one point behind the Carolina Hurricanes despite playing two fewer games. There are many teams with much worse starts. Things are on fire in Pittsburgh. The Flames are off to another disappointing start. The Edmonton Oilers are the most disappointing team in the NHL. This Devils team is not only fine, they are in great shape.